A warm welcome to Sheffield College, the newest Further Education College of Sanctuary!
This award is national recognition for the College’s commitment to the values of fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusivity and engagement.
As the largest English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provider in the Sheffield, the College supports people seeking sanctuary back into learning.
Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal, The Sheffield College, said: “We take pride in our diverse college community and the welcome we offer to young people and adults in need of safety. We are especially honoured to receive the College of Sanctuary accolade given that we are based in Sheffield – the first ever City of Sanctuary.”
She added: “Ultimately, however, this award is testament to the amazing dedication and fortitude of those students in our community who have faced huge disruption to their education, often as a result of conflict, and moved to Sheffield to start again. Education can bring a sense of sanctuary and provide a safe space as well as offering hope for the future.”
Siân Summer-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary UK, said: “We all have a part to play in building a more welcoming, inclusive and compassionate society. The Sheffield College is going above and beyond. Their work breaks down barriers, increases understanding and builds community cohesion. We are over the moon that they have achieved this award.”
Further education colleges are often the first place where people seeking sanctuary encounter educational opportunities in the UK either through ESOL classes or via new professional qualifications.
Students completing ESOL classes at the College originate from around 30 countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, China, Sudan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Burma, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Greece, Poland and Georgia. The College is also supporting new cohorts of Ukrainian adults and young people coming to Sheffield.
The College’s ESOL students include Walid Elmatmati, 47, who originates from Libya and moved to the UK four years-ago. He spent some time in Newcastle studying and working as a volunteer translator for the fire service and a local charity before moving to Sheffield.
He said: “I left Libya because of the civil war. I used to work for a human rights organisation and I also ran a food export and import business. It became too dangerous for me and my family to stay.